NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio — As colleges throughout Ohio struggle to conduct classes amid rising COVID-19 cases, Kent State University is looking towards the future, finding new ways to recruit potential students for fall of 2021.
With undergrad enrollment down throughout the state, Kent State University Admissions Director Mark Ledoux said they knew they had to find creative ways to reach potential students.
“The first week in October, Portage County went red, the health commissioner said we can’t do tours anymore,” he said. “So, we were just trying to think of a way that we could still get families and students information that we needed to get to them during their college search process.”
He and his team decided the best and safest way to do it, was to bring the campus to students. The admissions team is traveling throughout the state to various drive-in-movie theaters where families can watch, from the comfort of their cars, admissions 101 presentation, hear from current students and take part in a drive-up question session.
“We take them right into the resident halls and the buildings on campus, so they can get a sense of what it’s like to be on campus,” said Ledoux.
Tuesday, the team hosted a KSU2U event at the Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-In, in North Ridgeville and nearly 150 families from throughout Northeast Ohio registered to watch.
“I mean the movie feel is everything,” said Nicole Cross, a senior at St. Joseph Academy.
A college visit and rite of passage that 2020 took away from the majority of the students.
“I was really excited to get a chance to see everywhere, what campuses looked like, just the way everything works,” said Mary Kate Barnett a senior at Avon Lake High School.
Cross echoed her sentiment.
“I’ve seen a few other colleges. I was really looking forward to going on a whole bunch of campus visits, but of course, since COVID, it’s going to be a little changed,” she said.
For dad Elvis Azap, college tours are something he was excited to experience with his daughter, Alicia. She’s the oldest of seven kids and the first to go to college.
“It’s my first kid in college,” he said. “I’m pretty excited, myself.”
Both Elvis and Alicia came to the drive-in-information night for some clarity.
“Just see what different choice is out there before we choose which school she is going to go to,” said Azap.
Ledoux said typically their incoming fall class is around 4,300 students, but in the fall of 2020, that dropped to about 3,800. He said they’re hopeful, with recruitment events like KSU2U, that number will be back to normal come fall of 2021.
“What we’ve heard from students and families is that they weren’t ready, you know, they were trying to deal with the transition back to school, some students being remote, some students being in person, or a mix or school starting late for the year,” he said. ”Our plan is to really be back at 4,000 for our freshmen class next fall.”
The next KSU2U event is Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, 5-7:30 p.m at Mayfield Road Drive-In Theatre, located at 12100 State Route. 322 in Chardon.
You can register here.